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Maclay Finals Qualification

Does anyone know the reasoning behind the change for qualifying for Maclay this year and next? I’m assuming next year’s changes are because there will be so many entries for this year. But I’m confused about the purpose behind the direct route entry. It was unique to have the pressure-filled regionals as a qualification requirement that everyone had to do. I imagine that those who are able to reach the top 50 spots for next year would probably do well at regionals anyway because of their consistency in the ring to get the points, so it seems like a moot point to offer that route. Feels like they are “fixing” something that isn’t broken. Or am I missing something?

I’m not sure of the motivation behind the rule changes, apparently simplification of the qualifying process was the aim.

It takes half the number of points to qualify for regionals than it does for the direct entry route to the finals, and with a placing in the regionals a rider qualifies for the final. That would appear to help riders who are unable to travel and show as extensively as the riders who qualify for the direct route.

I think the regional competitions will still be quite competitive.


i know it has gotten way too easy to qualify. who remembers the good old days when you need 3 wins and get through regionals no showing after the wins.

i realize that could be a horse welfare issue if you end up chasing, but it isn’t like eq horses are lightly used these days


no horse in this race (too old for the big eq), but I will say regionals numbers for the few that have hosted are FAR smaller than previous years, which is I’m sure an effect of the direct qualification route this year. It kind of ruins the “prestige” and tradition of how nerve wracking it was to get in through regionals.

I noticed in the COTH article that the Board seemed to reference “returning to roots” or history in re-committing to the regionals route. But perhaps the new top 50 pathway means that a larger swath of riders from each region could make it? (Arguably with 10/11 regions, the top 10 winners of each leaves only a few slots remaining if the max is 150). This at least allows for more distribution at the regionals level, maybe? I dunno. I’m not good at math and don’t know the population splits. It seems odd, but also no less complex than the previous regionals-only with proportional allocations method.

In any case, I am curious if this adds more demand to a horses’ schedule now. Previously you could qualify in just a handful of shows. Now I am sure many will go for their full 14 just to try and make it to the top 50 - potentially doing 5-10 more 3’6” classes than necessary a season.

Will be interesting to see for sure!

It sounds like an algebra problem frankly. So next year the top 50 in the nation go based on that. The regional finals winners will provide 100 though I am uncertain if each region/zone gets 10 spots or if it is weighted (probably weighted because I don’t see zone 9 having 10 spots) and then, winners of some special big eq classes go also. That results in more than 150 but perhaps they figure some of the 50/100 will not go. Fun, fun, fun.


If Miss X lives in Alabama and ranks seventieth in the country but goes to UCLA and wins the regional in California’s region, Miss Y is ranked thirteenth nationally but does more than 14 classes, and Miss Z is ranked fifty-first nationally, falls off at her regional but places tenth on the USEF Talent Search East, who will be the first to arrive in Lexington if they all take the train.

Because it must involve a train!


The article about next year; https://www.chronofhorse.com/article/aspca-maclay-qualifying-criteria-changes-again-for-2024/

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With these changes coming not even a year after the last update went into effect with no opportunity to see if it “worked,” I wonder if the committee knows what problem they are trying to solve.


Is there a train to Lexington?

I’ve never seen one, but I never go into town. Lol.


Back in the day when you had to win X number of blue ribbons depending on where you lived, I remember somebody who won something like 25 red ribbons in one year without ever actually winning a class. Horrible. I think she did qualify the following year, thank goodness.

I wonder if this new qualification system for the equitation is intended to somehow approximate or align with the new channel 1 and 2 approach with the hunters.

Who said algebra problems had any basis in reality?!? :laughing:


I don’t know. The channel system is beyond me.


You obviously miss writing test questions! :joy:


I was at our regionals on Sunday and there was a LOT of confusion about the flat phase. In the past, they hacked pretty much everyone who didn’t have a major error. On Sunday they first announced that they would hack only twelve. Cue massive confusion because this was not what happened in the past, and horses being sent back to the barn. Then there was a rumor that they would hack 26 (out of the 30 or so that showed), resulting in horses coming back from the barns (mercifully not yet unbraided), only to find out that they would hack only 12.

In the past they had to hack essentially everyone in order to equitably come up with a list that ranked pretty much everyone since the only way to finals was through regionals and they needed an order so that people that didn’t want to go to finals could be replaced by the next person down. For this year appears to matter only if you’re first through third (link to rules on NHS website) so there’s no need for almost the entire class to be ranked.

I will say that it did seem a bit less tense this year, maybe since regionals weren’t a make or break situation. Either that or having it at 8 am on Sunday as opposed to late into the night on Saturday made a difference.

They are making this almost as complicated at Hunter Derby Finals.

In lieu of my usual detailed report on regionals I took photos. I’m taking a photo project class with the subject being the people who do the work to make the show happen. Consequently I spent more time taking photos of people working with horses, talking to riders, polishing boots, and clapping than I did paying close attention to what was happening in the ring. I will make a movie of my photos and share it…


Okay glad I’m not the only one confused by the changes! I never competed in the equitation as it never filled at the small midwest shows I grew up at, but I still love keeping up with it.

I personally don’t love the new changes. Maclay always felt like a class that anybody could at least try their hand at (and “anybody” of course being a restrive term to those who have the time and money to compete at the 3’6 level). A rider could reasonably get enough points to go to regionals and then utilize the blank slate to qualify for a really prestigious final. But now with the direct entry, those first 50 spots are basically guaranteed for the winter circuit riders. I guess it’s nice they limited points to the first 14 shows, but there are riders that can get that done January - April compared to people who don’t even attend 14 shows in a full year. And I said in my original post that those getting the direct entry can reasonably be assumed to place well at regionals, but there’s something about it that feels like they’re taking away from the little guy now that there are fewer spots for the small-town rider to work hard and earn a qualification amongst the big name juniors.

But maybe I’m just being pessimistic.

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Interestingly, I was looking at the 2023 prize list and tentative schedule today and there’s absolutely zero mention of the previous changes (IE, round 1 on Saturday and top 125 get invited back for a final on Sunday with a “clean slate”) - Saturday is listed as a 70 second warmup as done in previous years in the prize list…it was also previously stated in a press release that in 2023, top 3 at regionals got a bye for round 1. That is also not mentioned at all.

This is the COTH article that originally published this new format for 2023: https://www.chronofhorse.com/article/big-changes-coming-for-aspca-maclay-competitors/

Quiet change? Oversight?

it wasn’t this way when i grew up in the 90s. it was hard to make it and very elite to win it. 3 blue ribbons to get to regionals and only the top from regionals. it was held at the Garden. it was not an all day and night affair. It was all day on Sunday forever, but got done at a reasonable time. i can’t remember how many went but no where near the numbers now.


I seem to recall that they stuck to about 100 entries following the regionals for the Maclay final when it was held at the Garden due to logistics and time constraints.

Then when it moved out of that location, they started to increase the numbers. Especially once it landed in Kentucky, since that is actually a facility designed for horses. Not a converted parking garage or what have you.

Sounds like I’m in the minority here, but I think the Maclay qualifying changes actually help equalize the playing field. Limiting qualification to just the regional competition may throw out a top rider who - for any number of circumstances - can’t compete on that one day. Let’s say someone like Avery Glynn is crazy successful all year, but breaks a leg in August and can’t ride again until October. She’d miss all regional competitions; the high point qualifying still allows for her to have a spot at Maclay finals.

I like a system that balances rewarding consistency (via the high point qualification) with rewarding riders who may have equal competency/talent but maybe fewer showing opportunities (via the regional qualification).


What was wrong with having to win 2 classes to go to regionals? The idea of a final is everyone doesnt get to go. Regionals weed out those that qualify in areas with 6 kids in the class. Instead it turns into a 15 hour class with huge numbers. But then you had to have a good hunter and WIN to go to indoors and the garden. Now its pay and show up. The medal and maclay finals were meant to be the best of equitation riders not just an event that everyone participates in. But like anything else its about the money. Thats why theres 2’3 divisions at WEF…and people are paying 6 figures for horses to do it.